Category: Feasts

The Timings And Origins Of Pentecost 

The Timings And Origins Of Pentecost 


​The Timing And Origins Of Pentecost.

Pentecost always occurs 50 days after the death and resurrection of Jesus, and ten days after his ascension into heaven. Because Easter is a movable feast without a fixed date, and Pentecost depends on the timing of Easter, Pentecost can fall anywhere between May 10 and June 13.

The timing of these feasts is also where Catholics get the concept of the Novena – nine days of prayer – because in Acts 1, Mary and the Apostles prayed together “continuously” for nine days after the Ascension leading up to Pentecost. Traditionally, the Church prays the Novena to the Holy Spirit in the days before Pentecost.

The name of the day itself is derived from the Greek word “pentecoste,” meaning 50th.

What Happens At Pentecost?

In the Christian tradition, Pentecost is the celebration of the person of the Holy Spirit coming upon the Apostles, Mary, and the first followers of Jesus, who were gathered together in the Upper Room.

A “strong, driving” wind filled the room where they were gathered, and tongues of fire came to rest on their heads, allowing them to speak in different languages so that they could understand each other. It was such a strange phenomenon that some people thought the Christians were just drunk – but Peter pointed out that it was only the morning, and that the phenomenon was caused by the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit also gave the apostles the other gifts and fruits necessary to fulfill the great commission – to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations. It fulfills the New Testament promise from Christ (Luke 24:46-49) that the Apostles would be “clothed with power” before they would be sent out to spread the Gospel.

Where’s That In The Bible?

The main event of Pentecost (the strong driving wind and tongues of fire) takes place in Acts 2:13, though the events immediately following (Peter’s homily, the baptism of thousands) continue through verse 41.

Happy Birthday, Church

It was right after Pentecost that Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, preached his first homily to Jews and other non-believers, in which he opened the scriptures of the Old Testament, showing how the prophet Joel prophesied events and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.

He also told the people that the Jesus they crucified is the Lord and was raised from the dead, which “cut them to the heart.” When they asked what they should do, Peter exhorted them to repent of their sins and to be baptized. According to the account in Acts, about 3,000 people were baptized following Peter’s sermon.

For this reason, Pentecost is considered the birthday of the Church – Peter, the first Pope, preaches for the first time and converts thousands of new believers. The apostles and believers, for the first time, were united by a common language, and a common zeal and purpose to go and preach the Gospel.

Brown Scapular: A Powerful Silent Devotion. 

Brown Scapular: A Powerful Silent Devotion. 

May 16 is the feast day of Saint Simon Stock, a figure whose history is shrouded in mystery and legend. The late Fr. Kieran Kavanaugh helps us to sift through all the uncertainty to find the rich spiritual significance of Saint Simon Stock’s reception of the scapular promise from the Our Lady.

During the Crusades in the 12th century, a group of Westerners took up the life of hermits by the well of St. Elijah on Mt. Carmel. They built a chapel in honor of the Mother of Jesus, conscious that they were living in the area made holy by Jesus and his Mother (Nazareth is less than 20 miles away).

When Saracens toppled the Latin kingdom of the Crusaders, the hermits of Carmel had to flee the holy mountain and return to the West — to Cypress, Sicily, France, England, Ireland and other countries. They brought with them little more than their title of “Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel.”

In Europe they were entering a hostile world cluttered with many new religious families. The arrival of strangers from Mount Carmel was inauspicious, they were frowned upon. Internally, they were divided as to whether they should cling to their background as hermits or adapt to a new status of begging friars.

According to tradition, as an important fact in the midst of these difficulties, Our Lady of Mount Carmel appeared on July 16, 1251 to the prior general, St. Simon Stock, at Aylesford, England. The Blessed Virgin promised St. Simon Stock, oppressed with worries, that whoever would wear the Carmelite habit devoutly would receive the gift of final perseverance. The habit was taken to mean the scapular in particular.

The scapular was a broad band of cloth over the shoulders, falling below the knees toward the feet front and back as an apron, worn still as part of the religious habit by a number of orders of monks and friars. As it was gradually adapted for use by the laity, it became two small panels of brown cloth joined by strings and worn over the shoulders as a familiar Marian sacramental.

From the 16th century until the Second Vatican Council, the scapular received warm welcome from the faithful and enjoyed a singular approval by the Church magisterium. Part of the reason for this esteem was undoubtedly the constant stream of wonderful graces, spiritual and temporal, that were poured out on individuals through its devout use.

But another reason for its popularity was its strict connection with the last things, with the salvation of our soul, which takes priority over all our other duties here below.

Crisis

After the Council, the scapular devotion suffered the same “crisis of rejection” that so many other practices and teachings within the Catholic Church underwent.

First, it was said that St. Simon Stock never even existed. As a consequence, his feast day, which had been celebrated on May 16, the date of his death, was expunged from the liturgical calendar.

Second, if he never existed, then we must do away with the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the scapular devotion. The effort was then made by a liturgical committee to expunge Our Lady of Mount Carmel from the liturgical calendar, but the Latin American bishops protested so vehemently that the feast was kept; however, on condition that nothing be mentioned about the scapular.

One of the internationally renowned Mariologists of our order, Father Nilo Geagea from Lebanon then set about doing a very thorough research into the whole history of devotion to Mary in our order.

The result of his years of study is a huge wonderfully researched and documented volume published by the Teresian Historical Institute in 1988; so it is a fairly recent study. The title of the book is “Maria Madre e Decoro del Carmelo.”

Through painstaking demonstration, Father Nilo shows how even the most intransigent critic could not put into reasonable doubt the historical existence of St. Simon Stock. St. Simon Stock’s feast day was, in fact, restored by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments in 1979.

Is it true?

As for the historicity of St. Simon Stock’s vision of Our Lady, in which he is reported to have received the scapular promise, there are difficulties.

The earliest testimony comes at the end of the 1300s. That would place this testimony at an historical distance of over 100 years. Without taking away the validity of the testimony, the distance in time does lessen the power of the testimony to convince from a scholarly point of view.

Practically speaking there are two attitudes we can take:

First, from a scholar’s historical point of view, we must admit that there is a lack of documentary evidence that would demonstrate irrefutably the truth or historicity of the apparition. At the same time, there exists no cogent reason for denouncing the apparition as false and definitively denying its truth.

Second, on the pastoral level, one should not contradict those who may want to continue accepting the traditional data. We should not then oppose those who say that for centuries the Carmelite order has held that the Blessed Virgin appeared to the prior general St. Simon Stock and promised eternal salvation to him and to all those who like him wore the scapular.

Another point is that in the minds of many, devotion to the scapular is the equivalent of devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. This is understandable, but in reality the two are distinct in theory, and ought to be so in practice. The scapular is the means; the devotion is the end toward which the wearing of the scapular tends.

Yoke of Christ

If we look for the earliest references to the scapular, we find them in the Carmelite constitutions of 1281 in which it was prescribed that all Carmelite friars should wear their tunics and scapulars to bed under penalty of a serious fault. It was also prescribed that the white mantle be made in such a way that the scapular would not be hidden.

But the reason for these prescriptions was not a Marian one. At the time, the scapular was seen as signifying the “yoke of Christ.” This yoke of Christ in turn pointed to obedience. And that explains the strictness of the legislation. Taking off the scapular was like taking off the yoke of Christ, or rebelling against authority.

Only gradually did the scapular take on a Marian tone and grow until it reached such a point that it became identified with Carmelite piety toward Our Lady. In fact the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel began to be called the scapular feast.

Devotion to Mary expressed by wearing the brown scapular seems to be resilient and resists the attempts made in various periods of history to diminish its value. The faithful keep coming back to it.

From the official teaching of the Church, we can gather that the scapular of Carmel is one of the most highly recommended Marian devotions. This is true through the centuries, and into our own times with popes Paul VI and John Paul II.

Sacramental

One of the early Carmelites in his enthusiasm went so far as to call the scapular a “sacrament.” Actually the category into which the scapular fits is that of a sacramental.

Sacramentals are sacred signs. The scapular is not a natural sign in the sense that smoke is the sign of fire. Smoke is intrinsically connected with fire. Where there’s smoke there’s fire, the saying goes.

The scapular is what is called a conventional sign. In the case of a conventional sign, the meaning is assigned to the object from outside. Thus a wedding ring is a sign or pledge of mutual love and enduring fidelity between two spouses. In this kind of sign, which is a conventional sign, there has to be an intervention from outside that establishes the connection between the object and what it represents. In the case of sacramentals, it is the Church that determines the connection.

Sacramentals also signify effects obtained through the intercession of the Church, especially spiritual graces. The sacramentals — as holy pictures or icons, statues, medals, holy water, blessed palm and the scapular — are means that dispose one to receive the chief effect of the sacraments themselves, and this is closer union with Jesus.

St. Teresa of Avila for example speaks in her life about holy water and the power she experienced that this sacramental has against the Devil. She mentions as well how this power comes not through the object in itself but through the prayer of the Church.

Along with the sacraments, sacramentals sanctify almost every aspect of human life with divine grace. The passion, death, and resurrection of Christ is the source of the power of the sacramentals as it is of the sacraments themselves.

Such everyday things as water and words, oil and anointing, cloth and beeswax, paintings and songs are ingredients of the sacraments and sacramentals. The Son of God became the Son of Mary. What could be more down-to-earth, more human, indeed more unpretentious, plain, and simple?

Church position

With regard to the scapular as a conventional and sacred sign, the Church has intervened at various times in history to clarify its meaning, defend it, and confirm the privileges.

From these Church documents there emerges with sufficient clarity the nature and meaning of the Carmelite scapular.

1. The scapular is a Marian habit or garment. It is both a sign and a pledge. A sign of belonging to Mary; a pledge of her motherly protection, not only in this life but after death.

2. As a sign, it is a conventional sign signifying three elements strictly joined: first, belonging to a religious family particularly devoted to Mary, especially dear to Mary, the Carmelite Order; second, consecration to Mary, devotion to and trust in her Immaculate Heart; third an incitement to become like Mary by imitating her virtues, above all her humility, chastity, and spirit of prayer.

This is the Church’s officially established connection between the sign and that which is signified by the sign.

No mention is made of the vision of St. Simon Stock or of that of Pope John XXII in relation to the Sabbatine privilege, which promises that one will be released from Purgatory on the first Saturday after death.

Nonetheless, the Carmelites have also been authorized to freely preach to the faithful that they can piously believe in the powerful intercession, merits, and suffrages of the Blessed Virgin, that she will help them even after their death, especially on Saturday, which is the day of the week particularly dedicated to Mary, if they have died in the grace of God and devoutly worn the scapular. But no mention is made of the “first” Saturday after their death.

Even the Sabbatine privilege, then, is not so unconnected with the rest of our Catholic faith and practice. The Second Vatican Council has also insisted on Mary’s solicitude toward those who seek her protection. “From the earliest times, the Blessed Virgin is honored under the title of Mother of God, under whose protection the faithful take refuge together in prayer in all their perils and needs” (“Lumen Gentium,” No. 66).

If some day an historian were to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that there are no grounds to the Marian apparition to St. Simon Stock or the scapular promise, the scapular devotion would still maintain its value. The Church’s esteem of it as a sacramental, her appreciation of its meaning and of the good that has come about through its pious use on the part of the faithful is all that is needed.

Gospel message

St. John of the Cross teaches that we ought not waste a lot of time and energy trying to discern whether or not a vision is authentic, but that we accept and follow it only insofar as the message is in accord with the Gospels and with what has already been revealed in Jesus Christ. Faith requires us to live with complete trust in God and in darkness with respect to seeing God or his saints.

The scapular as a sign is rich in meaning. I think that after we consider the official interpretations of the scapular, we can discover in it our own personal meaning. I like to think of it as a sign of Mary’s quiet presence, for the scapular is a silent devotion.

There are no prayers to be said. It reminds us of the contemplative aspect of our Christian life. Contemplation is what our saints wrote so much about. Contemplation is an ever-deepening silence in loving presence to God. It is in this silence that God best speaks to us.

Mary is the Church’s greatest contemplative. In her silence she heard those extraordinary words spoken to her by the Lord — “Blessed are you among women.” And so Elizabeth could add: “Blessed are you who believed.”


This article was originally written by Fr Kieran Kavanaugh and published on July 16, 2008. Fr. Kieran was the English translator of the writings of St. Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross. He was distinguished as a prolific writer etc. At 90 years old, he passed away on the feast of the Presentation, February 2, 2019. May he rest in peace. 

St. Joseph Teaches Us To Shine In Our Work

St. Joseph Teaches Us To Shine In Our Work


*St. Joseph Teaches us to Shine in Our Work*

_(Wednesday 1st May, 2019. Read Acts 5:17-26, Psalm 34 and John 3:16-21)_

_*“And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light” (John 3:19-20).*_

Today, being the first day of May, when the world celebrates Workers’ Day, the church earmarks this day to celebrate the Patron of Workers who is none other than St. Joseph, the hard-working husband of Mary and foster father of Jesus. We celebrate St. Joseph because he was identified as the Carpenter and from him, Jesus learnt how to work.

We celebrate this great man today who lived his life as a celibate despite his marriage to Mary and went about his duties quietly and humbly so as to highlight the Good News that work is not punishment, but an opportunity given to man to transform the world cooperating with God in His ongoing creation.

St. Joseph teaches us that laziness is not the same thing as enjoyment; that he who does not work should not eat; that there is dignity in labour; that if God himself worked in the person of Jesus, we should never be ashamed to employ our creativity and time in working.

Today we pray for workers all over the world, especially workers whose rights and dignity are suppressed by the powerful, workers who are being unjustly denied of their wages; workers who face harassment in their place of work; workers who want to work, but are searching for employment. May St. Joseph intercede for us all, Amen!

As Jesus tells Nicodemus in today’s Gospel passage, our world today is filled with too many people who prefer darkness to light, people who will try everything possible to prevent the light of Christ from shining; people who try to cut short the life of God’s genuine messengers.

This is exactly what plays out in today’s first reading. The chief priests and Sadducees locked the Apostles in prison for preaching in the name of Jesus, for doing the work of God. But God fought for the Apostles, He sent an Angel to open the prison doors. While the court gathered to judge the Apostles, they were standing at the temple teaching the people. This miracle was a lesson for the chief priests and captains of the temple; God’s way of telling them they cannot stop the work of God.

When anyone tries to fight us for walking in the light, we should not fear because our victory is already guaranteed.

Our responsorial psalm wraps everything beautifully when it says: “The Angel of the Lord is encamped around those who fear Him, to rescue them. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Blessed is the man who seeks refuge in him” (Psalm 34:9).

Let us Pray: Lord Jesus, create in me a pure heart and renew my spirit within me. Amen!

*Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Wednesday of the Second Week of Easter. Bible Study: Acts 5:17-26, Psalm 34 and John 3:16-21).*

-Fr. Abu.

Today May 1 Is The Feast Of St. Joseph, Model Of Workers 

Today May 1 Is The Feast Of St. Joseph, Model Of Workers 


TODAY is the Feast Day of St. Joseph, Model of Workers.

S. Joseph Opificis ~ I. classis

From today’s Divinum Officium:

From the Acts of Pope Pius XII.

The Church, most provident Mother of All, expends the greatest efforts for the protection and relief of the workers, erecting and promoting for them societies which Pius XII, the Supreme Pontiff, now wishes to be entrusted to the most powerful patronage of St. Joseph. For St. Joseph, since he was reckoned the father of Christ, who deigned to be called the son of a workman, on account of the irrevocable bond which united him to Jesus, drank abundantly of that spirit which ennobles and elevates labor. 

In like manner, associations of workers ought to be aware of the same kind of spirit, so that Christ may always be present in them, in their members, in their families and in fact in every labor organization, because the chief purpose of these associations is to foster and nourish the Christian life in their members, to spread the Kingdom of God more widely, especially among fellow workers in the same plant.

The same Pontiff supplied a new proof of the Church’s solicitude for labor organization, when, upon the occasion of a convention of workingmen held in Rome on the first of May in the year 1955, he took the opportunity of speaking to a large multitude gathered in the square before St. Peter’s Basilica, and commended most highly the instruction of workingmen. 

For in our day it is of prime importance that the workers be properly imbued with Christian doctrine in order that they may avoid the widespread errors concerning the nature of society and economic matters. Moreover, such instruction is needed that they might have a correct knowledge of the moral order established by God as it effects the rights and duties of workers, and which the Church discloses and interprets, so that by partaking in the needed reforms they might work more effectively toward their realization. For Christ was the first one to promulgate in the world those principles which he delivered to the Church and which still stand unchangeable and most valid for the solution of these problems.

In order that the dignity of human labor and the principles which underlie it might penetrate more deeply into souls, Pius XII has instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Workman, as an example and a protection for all associations of workers. For from this example, those who follow the worker’s calling ought to learn how and in what spirit they should discharge their duties, so that, obeying the first law of God, they might likewise subdue the earth and attain to economic prosperity, and at the same time reap the rewards of eternal life.

Nor will the prudent guardian of the Family of Nazareth fail to shield with his protection, and from heaven bless the homes of those who, like him, are artisans and workmen. Most aptly has the Supreme Pontiff ordered this feast to be celebrated on the first of May, a day which the workers have adopted as their own; from henceforth let it be hoped that this day, dedicated to St. Joseph the Workman, will, as time goes on, not sharpen hatred and inflame strife, but with each recurring year, invite everyone to strive more and more for those things which are still lacking to civil peace, and indeed that it may stimulate the public authorities to use their abilities in effecting whatever right order demands of human fellowship.

Matthew 13:54-58

And at that time: When Jesus had come to his own country, he began to teach them in their synagogues, so that they were astonished, and said: “How did this man come by this wisdom and these miracles? Is this not the carpenter’s son?” And so on.

Homily by St. Albert the Great, Bishop

On the Gospel of Luke, Ch. 4.

On the Sabbath day, he entered the synagogue, where those who came to listen had gathered. And the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were intent upon him. Some indeed with devotion, some out of curiosity, while some watched him that they might trap him in his talk. And the Scribes and Pharisees said to the people, in whom faith and devotion had already made a beginning: “Is not this the son of Joseph?” See this attitude of disparagement toward him whom they did not even deign to call by his name. “The son of Joseph,” this little the Evangelist says because he had known that both in Mark and in Matthew a fuller statement would be made: “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is he not a workman, the son of Mary?” All these things were said contemptuously.

Joseph is said to have been a carpenter who earned his living by his skill and the work of his hands, and he did not eat his bread in idleness and indulgence, like the Scribes and Pharisees. Mary also worked for her living with her husband, and with competent hands. And here is the meaning of what they said about him: “This man of ignoble and poverty-stricken birth could not be Christ the Lord, whom God anointed. And thus no credence is to be given to such an uncultivated and low-born man.”

Now the Lord was a workman because the prophet said of him: “You fashioned the moon and the sun.” A similar contemptuous way of speaking is found in the Book of Kings, where they said of Saul when he became king: “What is this that has happened to the son of Cis? Is Saul also among the prophets?” This slight remark shows great disparagement. For the Lord says: “Amen I say to you, that no prophet is acceptable in his own country.” Here the Lord calls himself a prophet. For he, to whom all things are known through his divinity, receives no revelation of inspiration from outside himself. Here, however, he definitely calls the place of his birth and upbringing his own country. But he was not acceptable to his fellow townsmen who were incited against him by envy.

Let us pray.

God, Creator of all things, who didst lay on the human race the law of labour: graciously grant that by following the example of Saint Joseph and under his patronage, we may carry out the work thou dost command, and obtain the reward thou dost promise.

Amen.

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